One of the most assuring things about Newcastle United in their pre-World Cup assault on the Premier League’s top four was their defensive solidity.
Eddie Howe has built the tightest backline in the entirety of the division and they are the foundations on which the team have launched their attempts to make it back into the Champions League.
Still, in recent weeks, they have been breached. Liverpool and both Manchester clubs were all able to score twice which, while hardly cause for genuine alarm, is obviously frustrating.
Indeed, that went away from what Newcastle were doing so well at the start of the season and the most high profile example of it was Nick Pope’s red card against the Reds, duly ruling him out of the Carabao Cup final.
During Sunday’s win over Wolves, the England international almost repeated a similar mistake.
Nick Pope lucky to escape another red card
Though it seems churlish to criticise Pope given the stunning start to life he’s made as a Newcastle player, he was perhaps lucky to have not been sent off at St James’ Park.
Played in an admittedly rather weak back pass from Sven Botman just minutes before Alexander Isak’s opener, the 30-year-old’s touch let him down and allowed Raul Jimenez to pounce.
Pope then appeared to haul the Mexican forward down, though nothing was given.
In reaction to the event, club legend Alan Shearer tweeted: “That’s a very lucky escape. Could, probably should have been a pen after that mistake from Pope.”
That’s the luck you need
While Wolves have reason to feel aggrieved, Pope not getting penalised for the incident is a stroke of luck for Newcastle, something that has been going against them of late.
Clearly, that will be scant consolation to the away side but, frankly, that is not of the Magpies’ concern. After so many missed chances of late, it’s about time something went the way of Howe’s team.